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In Brief — Oct. 15, 2004 {182}

In Brief — Oct. 15, 2004 {182}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

In Brief — Oct. 15, 2004

Oct. 15, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {182}

An e-Review News Item
By Michael Wacht*

Orlando District discovers missing funds

ORLANDO — The Orlando District of the United Methodist Church recently discovered that a former employee has taken as much as $70,000 from its district work fund over the past four years. A recent audit revealed the former employee used the district checking account and credit card for personal expenses from 1999 through 2003.

"We are using all due diligence to track down the missing funds and to document everything," said the Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins, Orlando District superintendent, adding the task was complicated by the need to also verify the purpose for which the money was originally given to the church.

"We're trying to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us and make sure those funds serve the purposes for which they were intended. If the money is due to other organizations, we will give it to them when we get it," he said.

Stiggins said he and district officials had met with the former employee, who agreed to work to repay the funds over the next few years. He also said the district will be making an accusation to local authorities about the theft.

"We dealt with [the former employee] with great respect, understanding and compassion," he said. "We also realize the church cannot be a good steward and a good citizen of the community by dealing with this internally. We don't want [the former employee] to be able to do this in another setting. The primary reason for filing charges is to prevent this from happening in another organization."

The missing funds were identified because of new accounting and auditing procedures put in place in the district office since the employee left last August. Those procedures include having a third party reconcile monthly bank statements, upgrading the annual review of the district books and a full audit of all district funds every four years, according to Stiggins.


*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.